Sans Permis

Americans talk a lot about freedom but have less of it in many ways than people do in other countries.

France, for instance.

Over there, you can legally buy and drive a car without a license – sans permis – which is something that’s very illegal to do here.

In France there is a whole class of cars – everything from clapped out Hoopties to brand new and warranted – that are not only legal to drive without any kind of government-issued permission slip or ear tag (as here) you don’t even have to be sixteen- years-old to do so.

You can drive a voitures sans permis – a “car without a license” – at fourteen and not have to worry about being hut! hut! hutted! by a gaggle of tacticooled and buzz-cut armed government workers. It’s all perfectly legal. The only requirements are that you pass a cursory written exam about French traffic laws and attest that you have “driven accompanied for a minimum of four hours.”

Proof of this is not required.

It is generally assumed that if you are driving, you probably already can. Thus, you are left alone unless you cause a problem. A real problem, as opposed to a manufactured one, such as not having a government-issued permission slip. If you crash, if you hurt someone (more than just their feelings) then you’ll deal with the gendarme. Otherwise… not.


These VSPs are small – and not very powerful. They are restricted to a top speed of about 30 MPH. But unlike say a scooter – which you can still legally operate here in the land-of-the-less-and-less-free without a government permission slip – the VSP is a car, enclosed and protected from the weather.

Put another way, the French government doesn’t punish people sans permis by essentially telling them: If you want to drive a car – and not get soaked or freeze in the cold – then you’ll have to wait until you are at least sixteen and get a license, regardless.

On top of that, you’ll also have to buy a bunch of expensive saaaaafety equipment you maybe don’t want – regardless of your age.

New VSP cars, in startling contrast to what goes on here, can be ordered with amenities such as air conditioning and stereos, just like other new cars – but unlike other new cars, VSP cars are not required to have air bags or other government-mandated saaaaafety equipment and thus, even 14-year-olds can afford to buy and drive one.


Read the Whole Article